It is incumbent on business executives to stay ahead of the social media curve in order to compete efficiently in their respective industries.
However, when you consider where social media was just five years ago, it is impossible to imagine where it will be by 2020. This can be daunting for CEOs and other top executives who were not taught social media when they went to business school or worked their way up the ranks of their organizations.
Senior executives need to embrace social media and integrate it into the DNA of their entire organization. It needs to align with the business goals and permeate throughout each division and employee in order to fully maximize the benefits.
In order to do this, Steve Nicholls, author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist offers a list of 10 Crucial C’s that will lay a foundation for senior executives to create a winning social media strategy
1. Conversation: social media, at its core, is a conversation taking place online. People share content in all kinds of forms – words, videos, music and webinars amongst many other kinds – between each other. Passive intake of information is not the name of the game any longer; social media instead allows constant interaction and sharing of content between Internet-users.
2. Coordination: coordinating projects across geographical boundaries and time zones is made much easier by social media. A project manager, for instance, has many business tools that he/she can use to manage and coordinate a project online between different participants, different locations and different time zones. Social media is like the glue bringing different parts of a project, or different projects, together.
3. Cooperation: social media pairs very well with cooperation as it allows more cooperation to take place between different participants in a project, job or office, amongst other contexts. As we just saw, social media is by definition the sharing of information, this means that by definition, it is a cooperative process, and this cooperative process, transposed onto a business context, has much potential.
4. Communication: social media creates and enhances communication amongst a company’s staff, between staff and clients, between sales and customers and between upper and lower management, to give just a few examples. Social media thus generates and develops communication both internally – within a company – and externally, between a company and external players in the business. Also, it allowed both formal and information communication to take place, where the fomer is owned by the organization and the latter by the employees. Maagemetn however needs to be cautious not to push information communication underground by attempting to control it.
5. Collective intelligence: user-generated online content equates to business intelligence for companies. Taking advantage of this information is invaluable leverage and can help a company improve and perform better by accessing new ideas, finding solutions and getting feedback of its business directly from customers or clients. Moreover, this kind of business intelligence can be collected at virtually no cost, which means that companies have the opportunity to gain business insight in a highly cost-effective way.
6. Communities: social media allows a company to find, create and interact with pools of customers, clients, suppliers and even competitors, amongst other key players in a given business. Communities can take shape both internally, within a company’s employees for instance, and externally, between a company and its clients for example. Taping into communities is a very efficient way to reach as many people as possible in a very fast, inexpensive and efficient way.
7. Collaboration: social media helps creating more efficient collaboration between co-workers, partners and stakeholders. Social media facilitates teamwork through a range of tools that can be managed across geographical limits. This can take place between employees, teams and departments, but also between bilateral groups like business/customers, business/suppliers or business/stakeholders.
8. Content: social media is all about sharing content. Through social media tools, you can create, share, change and have access to all kinds of content. It is this freedom in generating and sharing content that makes social media so powerful. This is what makes it possible for someone working from an attic somewhere to create a ‘viral video’ about a particular food recipe that will reach millions across the globe, for instance.
9. Context: it is the context that will define how a social media project will take shape. Looking at a company’s business environment, company culture and business goals, for instance, will shape a social media project according to the specific business context in which the company operates. This will prevent companies from going enthusiastically in the wrong direction and adopt a social media project that has no beginning or end.
10. Culture: culture is a crucial component that will determine how successful a social media project can be. A company culture generally fits somewhere between a closed to open continuum, and the more open it is, the more a company will have the freedom to take advantage of social media. Opening a company’s culture is perhaps the single most important thing to do in order to engage with social media project. Banning social media is not a solution anymore, even autocratic political regimes have failed to do so, but using it within a conducive but regulated cultural framework is the ideal response to the Internet revolution.
Steve Nicholls is the author of the best-selling “Social Media in Business,” international speaker, and social media strategist who helps business executives implement a winning social media strategy into their organization.